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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight conversation with the grammy-winning singer and one of the most popular musicians to come out of new orleans, aaron neville. you can catch a special this march. the latest project is the first for the blue note common and it was co-produced -- for the blue note, and it was coproduced by keith richards. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s.
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as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> please welcome aaron neville. he has just released a terrific new cd. it serves as the basis for a pbs concert special. here is a sneak preview of malik true story."
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i got a girl and ruby is her name ♪ ♪ she don't love me but i love her just the same ♪ ♪ i am going to haunt you ♪will you be mine tavis: i saw the cd. i felt like you have been keeping something from us if this is a true story. what have we been getting all s?e other years chairma >> the first time i wanted to record our wanted to do doo- wop. i even did a doo-wop version of the mickey mouse march.
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>> why doo-wop? >> doo-wop nurtured me and threw me into who i am. the teacher thought i had a d d. tavis: what is it about the style that resonated in which you? >> i was not king cole, and who sam cooke. doo-wop was something that sued in may. it made everything all right. tavis: you mentioned an icon. since you mentioned him, i read somewhere where allen tried to
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get you to change the way you sing. whenever anyone here is your voice, all you need is one or two notes. it is the song style, the way you change the song. tell me about that experience. >> he was saying, can you sing it straight ahead--- straight? that is something that is just not there. >> when we hear you're saying in which that vibrato, that has always been there for you? >> yes. tavis: i assume you are ok with
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it. >> i am ok with it. he felt what i was thinking about, and he tried to write everything after that to fit what i was doing. tavis: since your style is not straight and we hear that vibrato, what is the advantage to having that style? is there something you cannot sing because of the way you saying? >> if it does not sound good, i will not do it. anything i sing i have to feel it. people ask me the difference between recording and lives performance. it is like painting a picture.
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you want the audience to feel what you feel. what you see is what you get. tavis: feeling right and sounding right are not always the same thing. it may feel right, but maybe somebody else's voice does not work for that particular material. how did you know these wood- -- would match doo-wop? >> i wake up at 3:00 in the morning with songs in my head, and i cannot go back to sleep until icing five or six of them. -- until i sing five or six of them. era.ny great songs for vieir te
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>> of this is the first and not the last, how did these make the cut? are these your favorites? >> we started with 12 songs and wound up reporting 23. it was fun because she'd richards was telling the band, aaron -- keith richards was telling the band, erin is going to do a song. we did 23 songs in five days. tavis: i get it, but how is a guy like keith richards producing aaron neville singing doo-wop? >> we grew up listening to the same music. we were like kids. the same thing with paul simon. you can see the same look in
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everybody's face because music is magic. >> paul simon as a guest on your special, i mention this, aaron neville doo-wop is going to be in march. >> it was great. we had three days of rehearsals. it was a fantastic show. i looked at it, and i am satisfied. it is a great show. tavis: tell me why you think this still resonates. what makes you think in 2013 doo-wop can resonate with an audience?
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>> everything is in place. it is some great music, and i am hoping i played for young people and they say, that is great. maybe the audience -- i am not going to say my age, because i am 27. >> obviously a little older than you. tavis: to your point about young kids, because your career has had so many different iterations, what does and aaron neville show look like? we have no news from disney to ja -- we know you from disney to jazz. who is in the audience? >> it is a lot of smiling people. they make me smile. tavis: we talked about keith richards a moment ago.
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don was here some time back, and he mentioned he was doing this project. how does it feel for you to be produced by blue note 7 and and and nearly notice such a historic label. new -- to be produced by blue note? blue note is such a historic label. >> i cannot explain the feeling. it makes me feel great. i feel good about it whatever happens. >> do i take that to mean there are not as many labels as there might have been back in the day? >> i would not say that, but probably not doo-wop. it had to be a special thing.
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don recorded who for the movie phenomenon. also trichet here would -- tricia yearwood. i think god put it together. tavis: i am always fascinated by the of the inflow of any person's career. i mention this stuff now -- fascinated by eb and flow of any person's career. you talk about the different things you have done. it has been all over the place. was that by design? have you just gone with the flow. >> i went with the flow. things were supposed to happen. for a long time nothing is going to happen. i was working on the docks, and that is the way it is supposed to be.
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you just roll with it. tavis: you have been for a good part of your career a longshoreman. and when youvigate really are an artist and nothing is happening? how do you navigates that it? -- how do you navigate that? >> i feel like life is what it is. i used to be at the shipyard unloading cargo, and i would sing. they would say, you should be on tv with smoke. i said, i have got a family to feed. when it is time to get out of this whole, i will get out. it was a hit record. i got a few dollars and nothing else. they said, and you are not
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bitter. i ain't got no reason to. it happens for a reason. >> how do you get a hit as huge and you end up in gold? -- in the hole? >> i think god has been guiding me. i looked up, and he was not even aware. i was 25. i might not have been here. i am here. tavis: how did you keep faith during that time when you have got guys telling you you should so they recognize the artistry, but you have a family to feed. i respect that, because a lot of guys once they get a hit they think they belong on stage and they are not going to do anything but get on stage, and if they do not the bills are going to get paid. you handled your business, but
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how you process that when you know you are gifted enough to be on stage? >> i had times when i was feeling low and separated from my wife, sitting in the gutter trying to figure it out. i started singing ave maria, and it lifted me and i said, i have got to wait. the time will be here. >> i am fascinated by what you just said. i wish i could sing like aaron neville, because there have been times when i wish i could lift myself up like a couple days ago. i grew up in a pentecostal church. i grew up in a tradition, and whether one can sing or not, those old songs and you start to sing those songs, it is amazing how you can lift yourself up
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with the right kind of song. that has happened with me with a church i grew up in, but talk about those moments when you had to lift yourself singing. ave maria, that is a pretty good thing to sing, but how you live yourself with your own voice? >> i guess is god. i have faith -- i was going through low times, and she turned me on to st. jude. he is the saint of hopeless cases. i prayed a lot. i still do. walking down the street, i pray. >> st. jude is with you all the time. but i have never seen a picture of you when that hearing was not present in your ears.
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good -- that earring is not present in your ears. tell me about your early start, losing your mom. you're not the only one with talent, but who told you were good enough to sing and to be a group? >> my parents were migrated cents. -- my greatest sense. -- fans. my uncle was a piano player. they were a dance team, and they had the chance to go on the road. my grandma would not let them go because of the jim crow laws. she promised they would never stop us from doing our dream.
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they were our greatest sense. -- fans. we did not know how good we were. i used to sing my way into the movies. >> how did that happen? they would let you in? >> yes. >> you just go to the game without a ticket, and they say, go on in. you mention your brother charles, who went out on the show. i was about to ask you. you are on may 27, so you were not around in the day of jim crow and segregation. since you were there, what was your experience with that common and not now and what obstruction did you have to overcome as a result of the time? >> you knew where you were not
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wanted. iyou did not go. even if we were playing music in those days, we could play music, but we could not go out into the audience. sometimes the dressing room was outside in the back. tavis: there were shows when they said you can perform, but don't you dare come in the audience? >> they did not say it like that, but we know that. >> you got the get your black behind on stage. come into the audience. >> i would speak to people every day, and they would not say nothing to mean like i was not even there. by the time i got ready to leave the school, people started speaking to me. >> i think i have asked this question unapologetically of every artist i have had a chance
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to have on my radio or tv show, but i have never talked to anybody from new orleans without asking their take on how the city influenced what they do and who they are. whenever you talk to anyone from new orleans, they are willing to admit the music i-- the city has played as much of a role in their musical development. part of it is just being in new orleans. and when you have ever read or talked about, there is a connection, and tell me about how new orleans has factored into your sound. >> music is just in the air. it is not just one kind of music, but you can be playing and all of a sudden you hear the drums, and you do not know what
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it is. there is a cross brand behind the funeral. all whole lot of people doing the dance, so all of that grows within you, and you grow up with the mark in cross regions -- grow up with marti gras. you follow the beat of the drummer. new orleans is a special place. tavis: did i read somewhere that when you got together to sing, you were i saw hogshead. what was the best you could do? >> the band was already together. and he was a singer, and they recorded a song.
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a doo-woparted with wh group, and they would go to the park entrance sing. they let me sing with them. they were winning all the talent shows and everything, but they were the premier band of new orleans. there was a brand called the flamingos, -- a band called the flamingos, and they were the two best friends in the city. after "tell it like it is" art went on the road with me. a guy named derek brown was playing sax. -- barrett brown was playing
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sax. a lot of rap groups started assembling the music for. tavis: eventually it all more of into the neville brothers? >> yes, that happened in 1976. my uncle was the chief of the mardi gras indians. he called us together into the studio to do the album. i would say, you hit this note or that note. we decided to do the neville brothers. tavis: we are all the better for it. pbs is running a special that will be on stations across the country in the month of march. i assume you are going to be to
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ring for this. >> yes. tavis: you shot it already. you still love the life of you talk about the difference between recording it in the cdo -- in the studio and doing it live. >> i am way down with star trek. tavis: you and me both. >> sorry, but the flight has been cancelled. tavis: when you are on stage, is there anything better? >> it is great. you are one with the audience. you see people give you a standing ovation or whatever, you see them and beaming like a love what you're doing. it is way cool. >> you have seen a lot of that, and i suspect you will see a lot
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more. this is a project of him singing some of his favorite doo-wop stuff. you want to get the first one to add to your collection. good to see you, my friend. that is our show for tonight. i will see you next time. until then, and now thanks for watching, and keep the faith. ♪ >> ♪ under the boardwalk, down by the scenea ♪ isn a blanket with my baby where i will be ♪ ♪ under the boardwalk ♪ under the boardwalk ♪ to be having some fun
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♪ people walking above ♪ we will be falling in love ♪ under the boardwalk, boardwalk ♪ ♪ today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a look at one of this year's most acclaimed documentary projects, "searching for sugar man." that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway
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to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your you. thank you. >> be more. >> be more.
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Tavis Smiley
PBS February 1, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PST

News/Business. Aaron Neville. (2013) Singer Aaron Neville. New. (CC) (Stereo)

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on 2/1/2013